Families are constantly asking about when to take away driving privileges from their aging parents. This chore is often difficult for the adult child; but, with the guidance of a geriatric care manager, the family will find comfort and support when facing one of the most challenging, painful, but necessary tasks.
The information in this article is from http://www.alz.org.
Driving demands good judgment, quick reaction time and split-second decision making. Because of the progressive nature of Alzheimer’s, a person with the disease will eventually not be able to drive. It is often difficult to decide when to stop or limit driving.
Warning signs of unsafe driving:
The following behaviors may be signs that it is time to stop driving:
•Forgetting how to locate familiar places
•Failing to observe traffic signals
•Making slow or poor decisions
•Driving at inappropriate speeds
•Becoming angry and confused while driving
•Using poor lane control
•Making errors at intersections
•Confusing the brake and gas pedals
•Returning from a routine drive later than usual
Tips to limit driving:
Losing the independence driving provides can be upsetting, and it may be hard to give up the car keys. If the person with dementia insists on driving, caregivers, friends or family members may need to take extra steps:
•Encourage law enforcement to issue a citation.
•Ask a doctor to write the person a “do not drive” prescription.
•Control access to the car keys.
•Disable the car by removing the distributor cap or battery.
•Keep the car out of sight. Seeing the car may act as a visual cue to drive.
•Have the person tested by the Department of Motor Vehicles.
It is important to learn about other modes of transportation before it is time to stop driving. Make plans for other modes of transportation, such as rides from family members, friends or community services.
The geriatric care manager at Raleigh Geriatric Care Management can assist with “having the conversation” about when to stop driving, an often daunting and difficult task for the adult child.